I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them." Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, WHO CREATED HEAVEN AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE EARTH AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE SEA AND THE THINGS IN IT, that there will be delay no longer, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets. (Rev 10:1-7 NASU)
Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth." So I went to the angel and said to him, "Give me the little book." And he said to me, "Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth." Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings." (Rev 10:8-11NKJV)
The Mighty Angel
The description of this angel is very much like some of the descriptions of God Himself. Still John describes him as an angel. Because of this, I think the description is used to paint a scene that strikes awe in us. The robe of a cloud and the rainbow above his head provide me with an image of a huge figure, perhaps several thousand feet tall. His head is above the clouds and his midsection is in them. His face is shining like the sun. He comes from the presence of the Lord and the glow on his face reflects this. To those who love the Lord, this is a comfort. To those who don’t it can produce fear. His feet are anchored. They are not going to move. This is a final decision that is going to be announced. It is not something fleeting. One foot on the sea and the other on the land lets us know that nothing is going to escape this pronouncement. All people everywhere will be affected. For us who know Jesus, it will be the promises described above. For those who don’t, it will be the assurance of destruction. The roar of the lion is comforting to the cubs, but strikes fear into the heart of its prey.
But this is what the Lord has told me: "When a strong young lion stands growling over a sheep it has killed, it is not frightened by the shouts and noise of a whole crowd of shepherds. In the same way, the Lord of Heaven's Armies will come down and fight on Mount Zion. the Lord of Heaven's Armies will hover over Jerusalem and protect it like a bird protecting its nest. He will defend and save the city; he will pass over it and rescue it." Though you are such wicked rebels, my people, come and return to the Lord. I know the glorious day will come when each of you will throw away the gold idols and silver images your sinful hands have made. "The Assyrians will be destroyed, but not by the swords of men. The sword of God will strike them, and they will panic and flee. The strong young Assyrians will be taken away as captives. (Isa 31:4-8 NLT)
One aspect of this angel in relation to God is that he shouts with a roar like a lion. Isaiah relates a last chance pronouncement for Jerusalem to repent. In it the Lord gives both hope and judgment. To His enemies, He promises battle, but to His saints, He gives protection after they repent. We have a similar promise of protection once we come to Christ.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. (John 10:27-30 KJV)
No one can drag us away from Him. Not even when the evil of the world bands together as it will be doing in the end times, will it be able to take us away from our Lord. He growls over us, His prey. Have you ever tried to take the prey away from a lion? The noise and clamor of the world may distract us and even lead us off, but He is not bothered by it. His purpose will not change. Many may appear to fall away from the Lord, but this shows that there will be a great awakening in the end times, not in numbers but in purity and zeal for the Lord. Many who have wandered will be brought back. Israel will embrace Jesus. We also need to remember that the others, Assyria, will fall by the sword.
This angel has a shout that inspires the voices of seven thunders to answer. We have previously recognized that the voice of the Lord is often associated with thunder. Seven thunders would naturally fit into a description of the voice of the Lord as well.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders, The Lord is over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful, The voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; Yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. And He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, And Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve, And strips the forests bare, And in His temple everything says, "Glory!" (Ps 29:3-9 NASB)
Here are seven descriptions of the voice of the Lord. His voice is over the water as this angel in Revelation is standing over the water. His voice is majestic, just as this angel has a voice that is like the roar of a lion. Even though the voice of the Lord shakes and rips apart the earth, He is enthroned in heaven. He is sovereign and just as important He strengthens us and gives us peace. It is only by the peace of knowing His voice that we are able to get through tough times. When we work things out for ourselves, we may get the job done, but how much easier it is when we carry everything to Him in prayer and leave it there. Rather than the possibility of becoming a frightening figure, this angel becomes a symbol of our hope and trust in God.
God speaks to people out of thunder as we have seen several times before. Here it is described as the seven thunders, seven being the number of perfection. It is the same number as the Spirits of God in Rev 4:5. The phrase “seven thunders” is repeated three times. This is important. It isn’t a casual; “by the way,” I heard this voice. It comes directly from God.
Seal it Up
And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (2 Cor 12:3-4 KJV)
What is said by the thunders, just like the things Paul heard, is inexpressible and not permitted for man to tell. I am glad I don’t have to keep a secret like that.
Rev 10:4 is a short but significant verse in the book of Revelation. Up until this time John was faithfully writing down everything he saw and heard. Suddenly, he is told not to include a bit of information. I believe this information is withheld because it would enable us to precisely piece together much of the timing of the end time scenario.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (Dan 12:4 KJV)
The words of the thunders are simply shut away. Daniel’s are different in that there is an implication that at the end, the information will become understandable. Other things in Revelation will make more sense as they are fulfilled, but it will have to be done without the seven thunders’ information.
The Lord wants us to look to Him for everything. If we knew His timing we could easily think we could wait for the last minute before repenting or doing what He wants. We could map things out and therefore hedge our bet. I know that most dedicated Christians would not, but many would, especially unbelievers. With the information of the seven thunders, people may be able to know or figure out so clearly the events of the last days that they may think that they could wait for the last minute to accept Christ.
This would be bad in at least two ways. Their motivation to come to Him would be insincere; He wouldn’t really be Lord, otherwise they would come now. If they thought they could wait, then they overlook the fact that they could die at any minute for a multitude of reasons and they would be unprepared because they thought they would live long enough to see the events of Christ’s return. Either way, Jesus would say He doesn’t know them.
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
But if that wicked servant says to himself, “My master is delayed,” and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 24:42-44, 48-51 ESV)
Jesus knows that people will act differently if they know exactly when He will return. His delay and His secrecy about when He is coming are designed to separate the true believers from the false professors. The people who truly believe are waiting and doing His will at the same time. The false professors are only concerned with getting caught doing something wrong. They are not concerned with the fact that it is wrong. So if they think the Lord is not returning, they don’t plan on dying, or think they have time to repent, they are mistaken. His patience has proven their true heart and He will come when they are not aware.
Another reason this is sealed is so Satan cannot know the information either. This is my speculation, but I don’t think he was present in heaven to see this vision, he can only read about it as we do. He is limited, but knows God’s Word. If he could figure it out, would things then change? God knows better than to even open up that possibility even though He is sovereign and could thwart Satan. If the seven thunders did tell something that Satan could use against God, then God would have to change it to stop him. This would give Satan justification in saying “no fair". God won’t change His Word, even when it isn’t written down. So it is best that we can’t know what He said this time.
Now the generation to come, your sons who rise up after you and the foreigner who comes from a distant land, when they see the plagues of the land and the diseases with which the Lord has afflicted it, will say … “Why has the Lord done thus to this land? Why this great outburst of anger?” Then men will say, “Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers … They went and served other gods and worshiped them …”
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. Deut 29:22-26, 29 NASU
Our God has revealed much to us over the centuries. We have example after example in the O. T. of God’s wrath. One point of these many examples is so that people will ask why. The answer is always the same. The people have turned away from God. These things are not secret but public knowledge. Unlike some religions that have secret rituals, or knowledge that only the higher echelon may know or understand, the Lord has written these things down so that all who want may benefit.
The secret things that God has held back are few. The exact time that Jesus will come back is one. The exact manner in which it will all end is another. The time of the rapture is also a secret. But He has provided all we need to know to be ready. Being ready is therefore more important than when He will come back. Being ready is really simple; follow His commands.
For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself. (Heb 6:13 NKJV)
For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. (Heb 6:16 NKJV)
This confirms that this is an angel as he is swearing by one who is greater. It is a confirmation that there will be no more delay because it is God who has sent the message and it is God who will confirm and ensure that there will be no more delay. There will be no more delay because the promise is made by the Lord who lives forever. Because He lives forever, He is omniscient and can confidently say whether or not there will be a delay.
In Isaiah, God challenged the people to understand His eternal nature. He asked them which of their idols could declare what would happen in the future to prove that they were gods. To prove that He is God, the Lord, has declared what will happen in the future as well as what had already come true in His prophecies. His ultimate goal in this was salvation, not destruction, but when all of His warnings are not heeded, then His destruction will not be delayed (Isa 41:21-23, 43:9, 45:21, 46:9-10, 48:3, 48:14.)
Since God has created the heavens, the earth and all that is in them, He can do what He wants with it when He wants. He has decided and will enforce what the angel says since this is His messenger.
In Numbers 5:11-31, the Law specified that a woman who was accused of unfaithfulness (simply because her husband was jealous) had to take an oath to prove her innocence. In the oath, she agrees that her thigh will waste away and stomach swell after drinking water that had dust from the tabernacle floor and the oath washed from a scroll into the water. It was once explained to me that the dust from the floor of the tabernacle was dirt from around the altar where the blood of the sacrifices flowed. The probability of the woman getting sick was almost a certainty. Therefore it was in God’s hands to keep her well if she was innocent.
On closer examination, the tabernacle was inside the tent or the building in later years. While the priests could track dirt into the temple, it isn’t certain that contaminated dust would be in the water. Instead of God needing to protect an innocent woman from certain disease, I believe the oath would only bring a divine act of accusation upon the guilty. Either way, it is God’s responsibility to show the guilt or innocence of the person.
In both cases, an oath is given before God. The people of Israel were compared many times to an unfaithful wife. The woman was to drink bitter water (trials and tribulation) to prove her guilt or innocence in response to the oath. The charges were written on a scroll and washed into the water. If she were guilty, then her abdomen would swell. In Revelation, John is to take the scroll and eat it. After John ate, his stomach was sour. The oath of the angel is that there will be no delay, God will judge to demonstrate whether or not the world has been faithful to Him. Tribulation and trial have already come, but John eats the scroll and proves that the accusations of our jealous God are true by his stomach turning sour. The inhabitants of the earth have been unfaithful to the Creator. Most often, if the woman were guilty and survived the disease, she could no longer have children. In like manner, it is possible that after this, no more will come to Christ from out of the earth.
The man dressed in linen, who was standing above the river, raised both his hands toward heaven and took a solemn oath by the One who lives forever, saying, "It will go on for a time, times, and half a time. When the shattering of the holy people has finally come to an end, all these things will have happened." (Dan 12:7 NLT)
This is another instance of an angel swearing by God that things will occur as they have been told. When we see angels swearing it must be serious and not to be taken lightly. It is God’s Word that it will happen and it is worthy of our study. However God’s timing isn’t always what we think it will be. In the next chapter of Revelation, we will see a reference to 42 months, which is the same as time (year), times (two years) and half a time (six months). The angel swears that there will be no more delay even though it appears there will still be three and a half years before the end. It also implies that until this time, there has been a delay, which we know to be at nearly 2,000 years and counting.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. (Matt 24:22 KJV)
Jesus told us why the delay of the end of all things will end. It is so that some of the remaining Christians on earth will be able to survive. Those that the Lord has chosen are precious in his sight. Some trials and tribulation are expected and we are all called to suffer. But God has His limits on what He will do. The angel says that in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery will be accomplished. It is not until Rev 11:15 that the last trumpet is sounded. A lot is to occur before that time.
The Mystery of God
There are several mystery mentioned in Scripture. A mystery is something God knows and reveals to us when He decides.
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col 2:2-3 NIV)
One mystery is all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Jesus. How could this be, except that Jesus is Himself God? Until Jesus came it was a mystery that God is three in One.
When you read this you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Eph 3:4-6 RSV)
This mystery is that the Gentiles are to become part of Christ (saved) as well as Jews. While that may seem a no-brainer to us, it was pretty hard for many Jews to accept.
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor 15:51-52 NASB)
In the Old Testament, life after death was not clearly defined. In the New Testament, not only is it defined, but goes even farther, letting us know that there will be a day when both the dead and the living in Christ will take on immortal bodies. The Word gives us enough to hope but not enough detail for unnecessary speculation.
The rapture, as described in 1 Thess 4:13-17, is still a mystery to many and is completely rejected by several denominations. It was unknown to the believers before Christ came.
The little scroll
You would think that the scroll at the end times would be even larger than the one in Zechariah. We have many more sins piled up over the years as well as the evils of the end of the age. The scroll is little for two reasons. First, it demonstrates that there is not much time left. Secondly, it is little because God has already said everything before. This is the final warning to the people of the earth. There will be no more end time prophecies from God after this. John is told that one more time a prophecy must be given and he is the one to deliver it. The following verses and the symbolism of the small scroll really put the lid on any more information being given on the end times. We have plenty to learn from and study. Nothing more will be revealed.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Rev 22:18-19 ESV)
Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts. (Jer 15:16 NASU)
Why has my pain been perpetual And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream With water that is unreliable? Therefore, thus says the Lord, "If you return, then I will restore you — Before Me you will stand; And if you extract the precious from the worthless, You will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, But as for you, you must not turn to them. (Jer 15:18-19 NASU)
So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, And I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent." (Jer 15:21 NASU)
Jeremiah had one of the toughest prophet jobs in the Old Testament. God’s Word brought Him joy, but also grief because he was persecuted for the prophecies. It got to the point where he gave up. The Lord promised that he would be kept safe as long as he repented and was obedient to relay the message to the people.
God’s words are an immediate joy to us because they come from God Himself. They are the words of our Father and because we are part of the family we delight in hearing from Him. As with Jeremiah, there will be times when His Word causes other to ostracize or persecute us. However, He will always be with us and will support us when we are obedient. John was already familiar with persecution; that is why he was on Patmos in the first place. Because of his obedience, he is given the most comprehensive book of end time prophecy in the Bible.
Ezekiel had a very similar position as John including a scroll that he was to eat (Ezek 2:7-3:3). He was given a prophecy to give to the Israelites that had already been carried off to captivity. It was not pleasant and the people were not ready to listen. Had they listened before, they would not have been taken into captivity. The words are sweet in the mouth because they are God’s Word. As Jeremiah above and David say over and over again, they delight in God’s Word, His law.
Psalm 119 is amazing in that it is the longest chapter in the Bible and in it David has expressed the goodness and delight of God’s Word in almost every verse. Unfortunately, there is the flip side for those who do not delight in his Word. They are the ones who will suffer.
And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear; for they are a rebellious house. (Ezek 2:7 RSV)
But the house of Israel will not listen to you; for they are not willing to listen to me; because all the house of Israel are of a hard forehead and of a stubborn heart. (Ezek 3:7 RSV)
The sad part is that God’s Word has been open to all who would receive it. It is symbolized in the scroll that is lying open in the hand of the angel available for all to read for centuries.
The word turns sour in John’s stomach because he was called the apostle of love. He had no desire to see people tortured and killed, even if they deserve it. John is told he must be the one to bring this news to the world. It really isn’t news. It is God restating what He has always said. But He is faithful and makes sure that all may know.
For thus says the Lord God of Israel to me: "Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it. And they will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them." (Jer 25:15-16 NKJV)
Instead of eating a scroll of prophecy, this prophecy is brought in a cup. It is the cup of God’s wrath. Two things are very striking about it as I read on through verse 29. It is followed by a list of nations that is very specific. But make no mistake; all of the nations on the face of the earth are included across land and sea. This will happen to all. It relates back to the angel in Revelation because that prophecy will also encompass the land and the sea. The next thing is that all the nations are compelled to drink; there isn’t any way to escape. God points to His own city, Jerusalem; if it does not escape His punishment, what makes others think they can? Unrepentant sin will be punished.
And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, "Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. (Matt 26:27-28 NLT)
Think for a few moments of the contrast that we are offered in Jesus. In Jeremiah and in Revelation, there is no choice, you will drink God’s wrath if you have not already accepted Jesus’ offer. He offers the cup of forgiveness, not taking and drinking of Him leaves only the unwilling consumption of His wrath. We escape the cup of God’s wrath because Jesus drank all of it on the cross.
Just as we had a pause at the opening of the seventh seal, so we have a pause at the seventh woe. This chapter is a pivotal point. Next, we will be looking at the time just before the last woe. It may even flash back a little to pick up events before the sixth woe, but we know that we have just received a grave pronouncement.
In the various studies in Revelation, we have looked at many passages that express what will occur in the end times. Each is a little different and can be related to problem in Israel and Judea. The astounding message throughout history has been the same. God will come and judge the earth, nations, and people. It will be a time of terrible calamity for those who are not ready. The next woe will be the summation of many of these warnings to mankind.
This is a sobering chapter because it announces the end is near. It is also sobering if we realize that we have the same information as John to share with the world. Let’s seek every opportunity to proclaim the forgiveness and love of Christ to a dying and sinful world.